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Social Security and Your Estate

With every new change in presidential administration, there are certain to be ripple effects in national programs that reflect the new direction those programs are being geared toward. Often, there is a period of uncertainty connected to funding for many public programs, especially in times of financial crisis. One such important program that millions of Americans depend upon is social security. In today’s day and age, it is difficult for retirees to exist solely on social security, which is one of the reasons responsible estate planning at an early age can help you navigate your retirement years successfully. With potential changes to the way social security updates beneficiaries on their benefits, it may be even more important to consider a comprehensive investment strategy as part of your estate planning.

Fewer Social Security Mailings

According to Laurence J. Kotlikoff, featured expert on NextAvenue.org, the United States Social Security Administration has recently announced that it will be providing fewer earnings and estimated benefits statements to beneficiaries as it moves forward. The agency quietly announced this change as a way to save it more money, stating Congress had cut its budget by 10 percent in the last seven years even though there has been a 13 percent increase in beneficiaries. According to the article, the agency has typically mailed such statements approximately every five years to people not receiving benefits between the ages of 25 and 60, and annually every year after 60. The agency estimates reducing the frequency of such mailings will save it more than $11 million in 2017.

Potential Changes to Customer Support

In addition to spreading out mailings over a longer period of time, there may also be changes to the agency’s already overburdened customer support. The author of this particular article notes that when changes were made to certain rules in 2015, the agency produced misleading directives for its employees that caused trouble for potential beneficiaries. The author reported that he was responsible for having those mistakes fixed, but that much potential damage had already been done because a large of number of agency staff had been trained incorrectly. Additionally, the author points out that the agency’s website, which many people under and nearing the age of benefits rely on for information, is actually filled with a great deal of misleading and incorrect information for beneficiaries.

What This Means for You

While many individuals believe social security is far enough off in the future to not have to worry about, these new changes may signal exactly the opposite. It will potentially be harder for you to find out what kind of budget you are looking at when you retire, and it could be increasingly difficult for you to access customer service in order to find out important information about your benefits. That means that creating an investment strategy and using your estate plan to help provide for your loved ones’ financial futures are increasingly important responsibilities for all Americans. Estate plans are more than wills, and can be vehicles for you to tackle hard questions about tax consequences and other important details before those issues arise and potentially negatively affect you and your loved ones down the road.

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